The role that the educational system should play in people’s lives is to educate them to be aware, critical thinkers as individuals who do not passively accept knowledge but question the knowledge that is being taught to them. Education must be taught to give students the skills and intelligence they need to understand the world and how the world works in order to survive in it. However, the American educational system is known to produce students who are woefully ignorant of the world and different cultures. One reason is that the educational system as it stands leaves little room for critical thinking but rather trains individuals to docile, worker bees in a global economy maintaining the richness of the status quo and “others” hardly making it. The problem becomes apparent if we look at the diverse curricula and subjects taught. There is a lack of focus on academic learning, and the only thing that matters is the high-stakes exam. Schools in this country have become mired in arcane curricula that assume that through constant testing, students will be prepared for life in a new global society. . . Whatever it is.
I recently had a conversation with a coworker and we were discussing how African Americans were treated forty years ago, and I was amazed at her naivety about it, considering the fact that she was both a college graduate and an African American. From the moment I entered the college, I was eager to explore the history of African and African American history from a point of view that did not make them appear subhuman, and the college also provides this opportunity to students. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of history and social classes you took; From her speech, nothing. But the sad truth is that when most people make the decision to go to university, the purpose is to reap the economic rewards, not to expand one’s consciousness.
For the educational system in this country to produce students who are not ignorant of its history and the world around them, it needs to be restructured in several ways. Parental involvement must be mandatory, just as it is mandatory for students to attend school for graduation. Lack of parental involvement is a huge contributing factor to the failure of the current educational system. Parents must instill in their children how detrimental a lack of education can be to their future. Teachers are wonderful people who can take students from the top of Mount Olympus to the cold and desolation of Antarctica, but they are there to teach, not to parent. Many teachers spend a great deal of class time disciplining children and playing babysitter, two things that are not part of their job duties. Teachers need the involvement of parents in order for the education system to function and education to begin at home.
The financing of the educational system must also be restructured. Public schools are traditionally funded through property taxes resulting in a very unequal distribution of educational opportunities. Wealthy communities have more funding for their local schools than those without. This situation directly affects the quality of education children receive in poor urban and rural areas. The No Child Left Behind Act will only make it worse because of required testing and public reporting of results. When parents buy a new home, they want to live in a school district with strong test scores. This raises property values in those areas, meaning that only wealthy families can afford to live in the best-performing school districts. That means more property taxes for those districts, while lower-performing schools lose their funding if they don’t meet federal standards. There should be a fair tax system for education that is not based on homeowner property taxes. Government funding is, for the most part, distributed to different schools by state and local governments and there are large disparities in this funding based on race. According to the text American education By Joel Spring, There is a gap of over $1,000 per student state widely based on race, with large states like New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, leading the nation in their unwillingness to fund education fairly (Spring, p. 77). Children should not suffer because of their economic background or race, and public education should not discriminate between rich and poor, or black and white. Every child who attends a public school should receive an equal education. Equal funding would give teachers the right resources to better teach students. School choice and the privatization of the public school system will not be a factor because under my plan, the educational system in America will be funded entirely and equally by the federal government and closely monitored. With the influx of money pouring into the educational system from the government, schools are going to change dramatically for the better because that’s the biggest problem with most public schools: lack of money.
The curriculum of the educational system will be changed to suit the nation’s melting pot of different cultures and races. From elementary school to high school, students are bombarded with facts and figures about wealthy white men as if women and other minorities don’t exist or contribute anything worthwhile to America’s history. No wonder so many students brush off historical facts: they don’t care about that fact because they can’t relate to the actors in the story. The student should be required to take courses that will give them a deeper understanding of the world around them, courses that discuss the history of marginalized and oppressed individuals in this country and around the world. They should be asked to read books that make them think, not just process information for the next test. If more students understood the values and cultures of people other than themselves, it would not be so easy or perhaps even possible for the government to lie and use propaganda techniques to lull the masses into believing that all is well and that its leaders are competent. High stakes testing will be canceled because most of the tests are designed by people who have no idea about the demographics, ethnicities or economic backgrounds of the students who will be tested and these tests are biased against minorities and the poor. If students are to be auditioning, additional tutoring will be provided to students at no cost to parents.
Having competent teachers and board members is a vital part of restructuring the educational system. It is important to have qualified administrators and board members who know and enforce standards and guidelines. What are the qualifications of the administrator? Are there qualifications required? These are the questions that need answers. Just because someone has a degree doesn’t make that person the best for the job. Board members should not be chosen because they are playing with the mayor; All board members must have a master’s degree in education or have an extensive background in the field of social justice. For teachers, the education system must make sure that the best teachers are selected for the positions and evaluations must be given frequently. This would give parents and the education system an opportunity to see what is wrong and what is needed to correct the problems. Public education needs teachers and board members who actually care about children and their education, not individuals who want the perks of working in the school system: summer and holidays, flat raises and a fat compensation package. American children suffer because of the shortcomings of the individuals involved in the education system.
The “culture of poverty” theory that many politicians have used to explain differences in learning between different races will be exposed as a blatant attempt by the status quo to “blame” individuals for their poverty if the education system is restructured to meet the needs of all students, not just the wealthy. Huge educational gaps between poor and affluent students occur not because poorer students have adapted to their lives of poverty but because they do not have the resources to succeed in school. If students have to deal with outdated textbooks, lack of toiletries, and computers from the late 1980s, their chance of advancing academically is dismal and their chances of leaving school more likely.
In a just and equal society, the educational system I have been discussing would have been implemented decades ago, but it has not and likely will not be. In a hierarchical society like in America, there will always be someone on the low end of the totem pole and the best way to do that is through poor education of the most vulnerable: children. The neglect of the educational system in the United States threatens the economic well-being of the entire nation. Unless inequalities in education are reduced and its entire system is restructured, the rich gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen and the United States will be infamous for being an uneducated nation. Spring, Joel. American education. (2006). New York: McGraw-Hill